Putin’s visit to Mariupol is a symbol of his failure

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who heads construction and regional development, as he visits Mariupol, Russian-controlled Ukraine

What was on Vladimir Putin’s mind when he traveled the devastated streets of Mariupol on his first visit to occupied Ukraine since the invasion last February? Was he proud of the work his forces had done in destroying or damaging some 2,500 buildings and almost razing the vast Azovstal Steelworks, the scene of a heroic last-ditch stand by the defending troops?

The Russians are using Mariupol to consolidate their hold on the Donbass, bulldozing the destroyed buildings and constructing a new city with apartments, schools, hospitals and even a concert hall. The destroyed metallurgical plant, one of the largest in Europe, has been transformed into a “tech and eco” park. They are trying to erase their Ukrainian past and see Mariupol as a strategically important link to Crimea, annexed in 2014.

But no amount of reinvention can obscure the fact that Mariupol is not a triumph for Russia, but a symbol of its failure. It was not this city that President Putin wanted to bypass when he ordered his troops to cross the border, but Kiev. But that prospect is as far away as ever.

His surprise visit on Saturday came just 24 hours after he was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Perhaps it was a gesture of defiance, a demonstration by Putin that, despite the arrest warrant, he wasn’t afraid to leave his country, even though he now considers the Donbass part of Russia. He may also have wanted to show China’s President Xi Jinping, who is expected to attend talks in Moscow this week, that he can leave the Kremlin.

The ICC has cited the forced removal of Ukrainian children in the indictment, although myriad other crimes could be blamed on the Kremlin. However, the chances of ever bringing Putin to justice must be slim. Russia is far more powerful than the countries whose leaders landed in The Hague, and it is hard to imagine that any political or military development would extradite or arrest him.

Nonetheless, as Justice Minister Dominic Raab writes in telegraph, the arrest warrant is a “significant step forward for accountability and shows that the international justice system is working”. But that’s only true up to a point. Among those who welcomed the ICC’s move was Joe Biden, and yet the United States does not recognize the court. Isn’t it about time

Source : news.yahoo.com

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